WASHINGTON – The House adopted the Dream Act Wednesday evening after an hour-long debate.
The Development,Relief and Education for Alien Minors,commonly known as the Dream Act passed by a vote of 216 to 198.
The bill would create a path to citizenship for people who were brought to the U.S. before they were 16 years old. They would have to live in the U.S. continuously for five years,graduate from a U.S. high school or get a GED. Students would also have to attend college or serve in the U.S. military for two years. Those who have committed crimes wouldn’t be eligible.
The latest version of the bill was introduced in the House this week.
The Senate will vote Thursday on a cloture motion,which is a decision to debate the bill. Senators debated the cloture motion Wednesday.
Opponents,including Reps. Lamar Smith,R-Texas,and Bob Goodlatte,R-Va.,called the bill a nightmare and said it would provide amnesty to illegal immigrants.
“The Dream Act could mean mass amnesty as illegal immigrants,” Goodlatte said. “This is ripe for fraud and is unfair.”
Other representatives argued the lame-duck session wasn’t the appropriate time to bring up the bill.
But supporters said the bill has been in the works for nearly a decade and that opponents had incorrect information about what the bill would do.
Rep. Howard Berman,D-Calif.,wrote the latest version of the bill and said beneficiaries would have to meet extensive requirements.
“It is not amnesty,” said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee,D-Texas. “It is people who are wanting to serve this country.”